Ubud is a favorite destination for those wanting serenity, romance, nature and a fulfilling experience.
It is packed with honeymooners, yogis and peace seekers. But is also budget-friendly for Bali backpackers.
The area has loads of tourist attractions, with beautiful natural scenery, without breaking the bank.
Located in the middle of the island, Ubud features highlands, jungles and villages.
The contours of the hilly land are filled with magical temples, stunning scenery and once-in-a-lifetime experiences waiting to be discovered.
If you are planning on backpacking in Ubud, we’ve got you. Here is everything you need to know about exploring Ubud on a budget, with your backpack in tow!
Why Go Backpacking in Ubud?
Ubud is the heart of the island in more ways than one. Not only geographically, but it is also the center of art and culture in Bali.
Surrounded by extraordinary natural scenery, with a calm and colder atmosphere, and away from the busy beachside area, it is popular for escaping the hectic tourist crowds for something a little more natural (unfortunately there is still plenty of traffic).
Those who want to live in peace and quiet, or enjoy some slow traveling, often choose to explore Ubud. Maybe partly because of the influence of Eat, Pray, Love.
As well as the famous jungle view resorts, there are plenty of wallet-friendly, cozy hostels and guesthouses. You don’t need to miss out on the beauty because of your budget!
If you are planning to rent a motorbike, it is pretty easy to get from one place to another. Taxi options aren’t as widely available as in the South. Be sure to consider your mode of transportation when deciding where to stay in Ubud.
Where to Backpack in Ubud
Ubud may only be 42km², but thanks to its location, in the middle of Bali it has lovely nature, cooler weather and pleasant serenity.
For exploring and backpacking in Ubud, there is a little bit of everything – luxury, budget, mid-range and local. Check these spots out!
Backpacking in Central Ubud
Central Ubud, or Jalan Raya Ubud, is the best place in Ubud for traditional market shopping.
There are many shops selling everything ranging from traditional fabrics and clothes, jewelry and Balinese accessories, as well as several well-known fashion boutiques.
The area stretches for 2km from east to west, starting from Jalan Raya Campuhan in front of the Blanco Renaissance Museum and ending at the intersection of Jalan Cok Gede Rai and Jalan Raya Andong.
The eastern end is marked by a towering white Indra statue, depicting a Hindu deity holding a bow and arrow.
Your itinerary will be packed with amazing cultural hotspots like the Ubud Palace and Ubud Art Market.
You can see firsthand how the Balinese royal family members live, and buy some artistic items.
It is one of the safest areas for walking in Ubud. You can easily get around without having to rent a motorbike.
Authentic, and reasonable priced, warungs line the streets for affordable and mouth-watering meals.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Central Ubud:
Backpacking in Sayan
Sayan is the more luxe area of Ubud. It is where you will find the famous Tegalalang Rice Terrace and Campuhan Ridge Walk.
These two spots are never empty of visitors, especially in the morning and minutes before sun set.
Head to Campuhan Ridge in the early morning for a foggy walk, look out over the phenomenal rice terrace and head to The Blanco Renaissance Museum for a look at a diverse range of artworks.
One of the best things to do in Sayan is to stay at the Four Seasons Resort, but this certainly isn’t within a backpacker’s budget.
Not to worry, you can still find budget villas and hostels with views of the Ayung River and Campuhan Ridge Walk.
There are also many affordable warungs and cafes in Sayan, offering Balinese cuisine.
In the evening, visit the Sayan Night Market for even more cheap eats! Mingle with locals and other tourists accompanied by amazing food.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Sayan:
Backpacking Near the Monkey Forest
It will take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to explore the forest, depending on how fast you walk and how much you enjoy the neighborhood of naughty little inhabitants.
After exploring the macaques habitat, you will want to fuel up.
There are loads of places to eat near the Monkey Forest like Monkey Legend Restaurant and Bar or Warung Semesta. Both serve Balinese dishes and many other Western options.
You can also find many spas and massage spots. Perfect for relaxing after weaving through monkeys.
Just off of Central Ubud, it is easy to get around from the Monkey Forest. Whether by taxi, motorbike or on foot, you can hit all of Ubud’s must-see spots.
Our Favorite Places to Stay Near the Monkey Forest:
Backpacking in Penestanan
The name may not be familiar, but Penestanan is classic Ubud.
It a quieter spot with no bars, hustling markets or Balinese dance performances which are a magnet for crowds.
Even at Bali’s busiest time, Penestenan still feels quiet and peaceful.
You will still come across fellow tourists, just much fewer than in other parts of Ubud.
Some interesting things you can do around Penestanan are rice field walking (it’s free and calming!), visiting the Organic Market which is held every Saturday at Moksa Plant Based Restaurant, and doing yoga and meditation at the famous Yoga Barn.
If you want to experience a real local village feel, then this is the place.
You can visit Goa Rang Reng Waterfall, one of the hidden gems in Bali. This waterfall is considered so sacred, they even perform melukat, a Hindu cleansing ritual, there.
Penestanan is divided into two parts, on Jalan Raya Penestanan you will find a more lively area, complete with dining and accommodation options. In Banjar Penestanan Kaja, it is more remote and usually looks ‘dead’ after 9 pm.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Penestanan:
Backpacking in Other Parts of Ubud
There are still many hidden spots in Ubud where you can stay for a real Bali experience.
- Peliatan is super central, and where you can see the strong culture and art of Bali.
- Desa Mas is known as the village of legendary sculptors. Home to some of the best art markets in Ubud, it is a relatively calm area for a peaceful stay.
- Located behind the Monkey Forest, there is the traditional village of Nyuh Kuning. You can watch real Balinese life go on, even though it is a bit difficult to reach. With monkeys passing by on the streets and local kids running around, it is a much calmer atmosphere than central Ubud.
If you have an artistic soul that wants to visit museums, the Rudana Museum & Rudana Fine Art Gallery has a beautiful art collection as well as a natural garden with a calming nuance.
For an adrenaline-pumping activity, you can go rafting on the Ayung River. Get down and dirty on the river, tackling the corners and testing your skills.
Our Favorite Places to Stay:
Top Tips for Backpacking in Ubud
- There is no public transportation in Ubud. You can get around by taxi, rental scooter or by ordering through apps. Note; in some areas, such as Central Ubud, you are not allowed to use online transportation.
- Wear comfortable footwear as many areas in Ubud are within walking distance. In some spots, the roads go up and down. It’s better to be comfortable.
- Riding a scooter is a great option for exploring the whole town. The streets in Ubud are not as busy as areas like Seminyak and Canggu.
- Do your research! There are many tour desks around Ubud waiting for unsuspecting tourists. Booking on sights like Viator and GetYourGuide ensures you get what you pay for.
- Vegan options are anywhere! No need to go to cafes or restaurants, which have higher prices, you can find vegan food at local warungs.
We recommend spending at least three days backpacking Ubud.
This is enough to fill explore the hot tourist spots such as Campuhan Ridge Walk, Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and other gems.
You will have time to enjoy boutique, healthy cafes overlooking rice fields, relaxing at spas, experiencing the natural beauty around Ubud, and interacting with the locals.
Chilling and taking it slow is the best way to enjoy Ubud. You will be able to stop, enjoy the moment and appreciate the setting.
It’s best to avoid November to March when visiting Ubud as it is prime rainy season.
Featured image: Motama Villa